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How To Fix Common Electric Window Issues

child looking out a car window

Sometimes, your car needs fixes that are more about convenience than anything else, and this is true in the case of a broken component in a window. If your window is stuck down, you can sometimes help it up by applying upward pressure to the glass while activating the switch. If the glass moves freely without operating the switch, move the glass all the way up by hand and wedge a folded business card or something else firm but not hard in between the glass and the door frame. This will get you home or through inclement weather until YourMechanic can come out to fix the issue.

You’ll need to determine if the issue with the window is electrical or mechanical. Press the button and if you see or hear the window trying to move, the electrical system is ok, and you can continue with mechanical diagnosis. If nothing happens when you press the switch, however, then the issue is probably an electrical one.

Method 1 of 2: Mechanical diagnosis

Materials Needed

screw locations

Step 1: Remove door panel. Locate securing screws usually behind covers or trim.

Some door panels have only one hidden screw and the door panel is lifted up and off of panel locks. Other door panels are attached by locking push pins and require a door panel popper tool. Use the appropriate tool based on the size of the screws.

hand removing vapor barrier

Step 2: Remove vapor barrier. This is usually secured with butyl ribbon sealer.

Step 3: Inspect cables. Visually inspect cables or guides for broken or misaligned pieces.

If you see a loose or broken cable and hear the motor moving when activated, then the window regulator would need to be replaced.

motor being removed from regulator

Step 4: Check for stripped gears. If nothing is found, remove motor from regulator to check for stripped gears.

silicone spray on rubber parts

Step 5: Replace worn or broken parts, clean, and lubricate. You will want to make sure that no parts are obviously broken or clearly stuck.

If so, reinstall whatever is broken, lubricate contact points with a lithium grease or silicone spray, and clean the glass for optimal performance.

Step 6: Reinstall door panel. Place all the parts back into their original place, including using butyl sealer to reattach the vapor barrier.

Method 2 of 2: Electrical diagnosis

If there is no movement or sound from the door area when the switch is pressed, an electrical issue may be present.

Step 1: Locate and check fuse for window motor. If a fuse is found to be blown, replace fuse and continue to check mechanical causes.

A blown fuse indicates increased amperage draw likely caused by a binding or worn mechanical component.

Step 2: Remove door panel. If the fuse is ok, follow above steps to remove door panel.

Step 3: Check the electrical input on wires. Access motor wiring connector, and identify the power and ground wires, generally the two largest wires on the connector to the window motor.

With multimeter connected to the two wires, activate switch with the key in the on position. If you are getting power in both directions of the switch, then the electrical system to the motor is okay and the motor should be replaced. If you are not getting power to the motor connector, then you will need to check for power getting to the window switch.

If the switch in question is the drivers door window switch, then check for power and ground coming into the switch by using the meter. If power is getting to the switch but no power is coming out, then replace the window switch. If you are not getting power to the window switch then you may have a major wiring problem that cannot be covered here and suggest you get professional help.

  • Note: On the passenger doors when checking for power you have to remember that the drivers door switch will control power getting the the other door window switches.

Resolving a broken electric window can be a huge relief, whether from the brisk cold of winter or the heat of summer. If you feel uncomfortable performing any of the processes above, or think the problem is something more than you can handle, have one of YourMechanic’s certified technicians perform an inspection.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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